My best friend from college was brought up to believe that her destiny in her very traditional family, lay in marrying a man chosen by her parents and then finding happiness in serving him and his family. Her brother played cricket, but she must learn to cook for this bright future.
Then she got a scholarship to go and study in the USA. Her Mom got me to take her photographs (in a sari) to arrange a marriage for her while she was abroad.
She was the most traditional amongst us and grew up with oppressive restrictions. But in America one of the first things she noticed was how it was possible to wear whatever she liked without being stared at (etc.). She sent me photographs she would never have dared to send to her parents. The mandatory black bindi was peeled off her forehead, hair left loose, she wore clothes that made her look gorgeous.
Something as simple and as personal as being able to wear what she liked was an undreamt of luxury in India. We don’t even think about it. Men wear western clothes and it is not even noticed, but let a girl wear what she likes and suddenly there is a sena being excused for molesting her!
Do we really believe that women are attacked for the way they dress? I think we do. The truth is crimes against women only happen when the criminal knows he will be excused or the girl will be condemned for even complaining against him. And how we love to do that. But not America.
Later she wrote to forbid me from ever sending those sari pictures to her parents. And then she started living with an American she had no hope of being allowed to marry. Shocking? Scandalous? She didn’t have to care. Then she married him and today they have three teenage kids, two dogs and one pet gerbil.
She is an Asian Hindu, he is white and Christian. Neither is afraid of being lynched for their faith.
She has no in-law demands. No dowry. Her mother in law has never attempted to demand that she has children of a certain gender.
She has no fear of her daughter being beaten for going to the pub or for drinking or wearing skimpy clothing. If (god forbid) if such a thing ever happens to any American girl, they will not be blamed for being in the wrong clothes at the wrong time, in the wrong place.
The victim will be provided emotional and legal support. The way any victim should be.
Now she joins my sister in demanding I send my daughter to study there. And for the first time, I am seriously thinking about it.
Somebody tell me how and when has Indian culture been respectful to women and their rights?
And since it hasn’t why am I so shocked that they beat those girls in Mangalore with this culture as an excuse? (For political gains by our criminals in politics).
And here are some points in response to a deleted comment (To the last post.)
1. Women are equal citizens, whether you like it or you don’t.
2. You do not have the authority to make rules for other equal citizens.
3.You may not like the influence of American/Western Culture on Indian women but they are very much within their rights to adopt any culture they like. Read about why @lankrita, here and Tearsndreams, here prefer these Western values.
They live there, they should know. MAYBE IT WILL BE A SHOCKING EYE OPENER FOR YOU.
4. Whether women do drugs or get drunk and dance in skimpy clothes, it does not become right for other citizens to beat them or molest them. YES I REPEAT, unbelievable as it sounds to you, MOLESTATION DOES NOT EVER BECOME RIGHT. It is always wrong.
5. Do you know the meaning of KOOP MANDUK?
6. Did you have Civics as a subject in school?
Have you read the Preamble?
Ever heard of Fundamental Rights?
We do not have any Legal or Moral Right to tell other citizens how they should live their lives.
7. Do you really care to know what moral policing and Talibanisation can do?
Have you read A Thousand Splendid Sons and The Kite Runner?
And if you think you are safe because such crimes only teach lessons to women maybe these books will make you see how injustice to any one of us affects all of us.
You may not like it but we are all connected.
It is not courageous to sit and watch injustice, silently thanking our stars that we are not the victims. But much worse is excusing the injustice.
Edited to add: Please read Roop’s brilliant response to this post, ending with … ‘When my freedoms are taken away from me and my personality is altered, it would no longer be me! It would only be my body walking without ‘me as I was born’!! as many do in India.